Just-In-Time Staffing: Benefits, Definitions, And Best Practices

Just-In-Time Staffing: Benefits, Definitions And Best Practices
Summary: With the growth of just-in-time staffing, HR leaders can now consider many shades of gray on the spectrum of how work is getting done in modern businesses. In particular, many organizations are benefiting from the flexibility and value of just-in-time staffing.

Everything You Need To Know About Just-In-Time Staffing

The truth about talent acquisition is that many businesses limit their own options by holding rigid views on staffing. We tend to think in terms of our existing processes and categories. If our business operations are arranged to categorize every talent resource as either full-time or part-time, and as either salaried or contract, we may overlook other staffing options.

Building a talent pipeline doesn’t have to depend on black-and-white choices between creating new positions and negotiating one-off contracts with freelancers. With the growth of just-in-time staffing, HR leaders can now consider many shades of gray on the spectrum of how work is getting done in modern businesses. In particular, many organizations are benefiting from the flexibility and value of just-in-time staffing.

What Is Just-In-Time Staffing?

Just-in-time staffing is a lean, fast-paced approach to recruitment, where companies rely on agencies to provide them with the right amount of temporary labor to cover their current staffing needs. This is often a more cost-effective and flexible alternative to hiring a new, long-term employee and burdening the company with more labor than it needs.

The concept derives from just-in-time manufacturing, a production process pioneered in Japan in the mid-20th century. The Economist[1] describes the just-in-time model as “supplying parts only as and when the process [requires] them”. Applied to staffing, the idea is to supply labor only as and when the process requires it.

Agencies that offer just-in-time staffing screen candidates carefully to get a sense of their background, capacities, and temperament—information that helps the agency create successful matches between workers and companies.

Technology has been largely responsible for just-in-time’s rising popularity. The Griffin Groupe, a full-service staffing agency that places temporary workers, explains[2] that agencies employ sophisticated freelance and hiring tools to place workers, including a digital labor marketplace, rating systems, and algorithmic recruitment.

4 Benefits Of Just-In-Time Staffing

Businesses are beginning to take queues from just-in-time manufacturing[3] and just-in-time inventory[4]. With this lean methodology, companies are reaping huge rewards for using just-in-time staffing to fill their teams.

4 major benefits these companies are seeing, include:

1. Efficiency

Just-in-time is a “pull system”[5], which means that new labor is only pulled into the team if the demand for it exists. It lets companies fill the gaps on their staffs without producing organizational excess.

From a business perspective, this helps companies become much leaner, removing redundancies from their processes and lowering labor costs simultaneously.

2. Speed

Just-in-time staffing moves fast. That’s the advantage of letting a dedicated agency find and recruit your talent for you instead of delegating the task to your HR department, which has plenty of other obligations to attend to.

Staffing expert Glen Cathey says[6] that it’s common for agencies to “source, contact, screen/interview candidates and submit the best  . . . within 24-48 hours”. If a sudden need arises, you can rely on a just-in-time agency to get someone at the door quickly.

3. Risk Reduction

Despite your efforts on a traditional hiring process, sometimes a new hire doesn’t pay off; a worker can turn out to be a poor fit for your company for any number of reasons. Replacing an employee, however, is costly. It takes time and money to recruit a new candidate, and unfilled positions result in lost productivity.

By contrast, just-in-time workers are easy to replace. The agency handles it for you, and quickly. The stakes involved in bringing a new person on the team are lowered, making recruitment a less risky endeavor.

4. Agility

Furthermore, when you’re unencumbered by the logistical responsibilities of hiring employees, you can change the shape of your staff more easily to suit your needs at that exact moment.

Example: A lot of companies feel obligated to have fully-staffed engineering departments because they want to have people on hand when major development projects come up. When dry spells come and software engineers are less able to contribute.

But with just-in-time agencies, you can simply bring on development professionals whenever there’s a need, and release them when that work is completed. It’s a dynamic staffing approach for times that fit with the dynamic solutions that modern technology companies are trying to provide.

The Flipside: 3 Ways To Accommodate The Unique Needs Of Just-In-Time Staffing

While just-in-time staffing makes it much easier to procure talent, customary management methods aren’t always suited to this model. You may have to make adjustments if you want to help this part of your team to achieve their best.

1. Training

Companies want their just-in-timers to be up and working as soon as possible, but some degree of training is necessary for them to function on your team.

You can’t just use the same standard training you use for your employees; much of it may not relate to short-term roles. And you shouldn’t use stock courses, which won’t reflect your company’s values or employer brand, either.

So what do you do? Simple: just follow the just-in-time model. Create unique training content for the unique needs of your just-in-time workers. Course authoring tools will let you make small, impactful, personalized courses that provide just-in-time trainees with everything they need to get started—no more, no less.

Also, try building training directly into your workflows. Giving people a course to accompany them when learning something complex for the first time—like operating a piece of complex machinery or navigating your contact management system—can boost their time-to-competency and retention.

2. Integration

Getting short-term employees to collaborate with your staff’s regulars can be tricky. One issue is that because their employment situation is different, they may feel excluded from discussions of important issues or from critical communication.

To allay these feelings of exclusion, give just-in-time workers a proper welcome. That may be small gestures like a note at their cubicle or inviting them to a team lunch. It definitely includes reviewing all the tools and platforms they’ll need to connect with the rest of the team.

3. Engagement

It doesn’t matter if someone works for you full-time or is only on for a week; engagement is a management priority. Unfortunately, because of their unique situation, it can be tougher to engage just-in-time employees. Knowing that their employment is fixed and short-term, some temps are focused on finding their next gig or worrying about second jobs to go to after they leave your office.

Since you can’t get the best out of a worker if you don’t have their full attention, you need to make sure just-in-time roles are engrossing and interesting. Consider these three ways to do this:

  • Provide training that teaches them new, valuable skills.
  • Seek their input in your decision-making process.
  • Ensure they have an understanding of the project’s objectives and of their role in it.

A Savvier Staffing Solution

Despite the learning curve involved in managing the just-in-time workforce, this approach to staffing is still enormously beneficial. The savings, efficiencies, and leanness more than make up for the small accommodations you’ll need to make.

The next time you find yourself in that awkward space between having too much work for your team but not enough to justify hiring another person, remember that there’s another, better option besides asking people to work overtime. By making smart use of just-in-time staff—and taking small tactical steps to keep them onboard and engaged—you can get just what you need.



1. Just-in-time

2. Just-in-Time Staffing (JITS)

3. JIT (Just-in-Time)

4. Just-in-Time (JIT) Inventory Management

5. Benefits of Using a Pull System

6. What is Lean Just-in-Time Recruiting?

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